Saturday, February 1, 2020

Profiles in Cowardice

A Dishonorable Senate

Republican legislators abdicated their duty by refusing to seek the truth.

  • Jan. 31, 2020
Alas, no one ever lost money betting on the cynicism of today’s congressional Republicans. On Friday evening, Republican senators voted in near lock step to block testimony from any new witnesses or the production of any new documents, a vote that was tantamount to an acquittal of the impeachment charges against President Trump. The move can only embolden the president to cheat in the 2020 election.

The vote also brings the nation face to face with the reality that the Senate has become nothing more than an arena for the most base and brutal — and stupid — power politics. Faced with credible evidence that a president was abusing his powers, it would not muster the institutional self-respect to even investigate.

The week began with such promise, or at least with the possibility the Senate might not abdicate its constitutional duty. Leaks from John Bolton’s forthcoming book about his time in the White House appeared to confirm the core of the impeachment case against Mr. Trump: his extortion of Ukraine by explicitly conditioning hundreds of millions of dollars in military aid on the announcement of investigations into his political rival.

For a moment, it seemed that enough Senate Republicans would come to their senses, listen to the overwhelming majority of Americans, and demand to hear testimony under oath from Mr. Bolton and maybe even other key witnesses to Mr. Trump’s Ukraine scheme.

How could senators cast such a consequential vote — how could they call what they were doing a trial — without hearing from the people with the most direct knowledge of the actions that led to impeachment? Every impeachment trial in American history had included witnesses.
Some Republicans made a show of concern before throwing up their hands. “I have come to the conclusion that there will be no fair trial in the Senate,” Lisa Murkowski of Alaska said on Friday in explaining her refusal to vote to hear from any witnesses. “I don’t believe the continuation of this process will change anything. It is sad for me to admit that, as an institution, the Congress has failed."

On the one hand, this statement was a suffocating tautology: Ms. Murkowski was saying that because the trial would be unfair, she would vote to prevent witnesses, ensuring that the trial would be unfair. On the other hand, her statement was such a searing indictment of the institution’s capacity to perform a critical constitutional function that one wonders how she can bear to work there.

In any case, Ms. Murkowski has it partly right. But it’s not Congress as an institution that has failed; it’s Senate Republicans. They didn’t refuse to hold a fair trial so much as they refused to hold any trial at all. Of course, Mitch McConnell, the majority leader for whom bipartisanship is a dirty word, had promised no less. He announced in December that he planned to work in complete coordination with the White House in protecting the president from any accountability, and that he had no intention of honoring the oath he would take to be an impartial juror.

The irony is stifling. For months, Mr. McConnell and other Republicans complained that the impeachment process was being rushed, that the president was being denied basic procedural protections, and that there was no testimony from those with the most direct knowledge of Mr. Trump’s actions and motivations. Then they refused to hear from a single witness and refused to demand a single document from the White House.
There’s an obvious explanation for this cover-up: With the exception of Mr. Bolton and a few other key figures, everyone who has provided incriminating evidence about Mr. Trump has done so in public and under oath; and everyone who he claims would exonerate him has either refused to testify or been blocked from testifying by Mr. Trump. Mr. McConnell, calculating that any testimony would be very bad for the president and thus for the Republicans’ Senate majority, persuaded his colleagues to take their lumps and vote no on witnesses.
The precedent this sets is alarming enough: the Senate abandoning its role as the ultimate guard against a dangerous president. Just as bad is the rationale on which most Republicans have settled for refusing to hear from witnesses — that whatever you think of Mr. Trump’s behavior, it wasn’t impeachable, and there is no evidence that could change their minds.
Given the seriousness of the charges against Mr. Trump, it’s hard to envision anything that this president could do that would require Republican senators to vote for his removal.
There is one apt criticism leveled by Republicans, even if they have made it in bad faith: Democrats in the House of Representatives moved too fast in the impeachment process, voting before they could hear from key witnesses like Mr. Bolton. They justified this by pointing to the urgency of the situation. Mr. Trump has accepted foreign assistance to win one election, has actively sought it out for another and has given no indication that he plans to stop doing so. He also pledged to stonewall any congressional inquiry into his behavior, which could have led to months or years of litigation over witnesses and documents.
But would that have been worse than where we are now? Had the House kept the impeachment inquiry open on the grounds that it could not vote until it had completed its investigation, the spotlight would have remained on Mr. Trump and his corrupt behavior. Evidence would have continued to come out, and the American people would get the fullest possible picture of the president’s behavior.
Instead, with the Senate’s blessing for his scheming to have Ukraine investigate the Bidens, Mr. Trump now poses an even greater threat to the next election.
Senate Republicans’ indifference to the overwhelming public support for calling witnesses was of a piece with the party’s minority politics. Its president lost the popular vote by three million votes. Its Senate majority represents 15 million fewer Americans than the Democrats’ minority. In states like North Carolina, it rigs the maps to turn popular-vote losses into legislative majorities, then strips power from duly elected Democratic leaders.

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Oath. What Oath?

I, Judy Wilson-Raybould, do solemnly and sincerely swear (declare) that I shall be a true and faithful servant to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, as a member of Her Majesty's Privy Council for Canada. I will in all things to be treated, debated and resolved in Privy Council, faithfully, honestly and truly declare my mind and my opinion. I shall keep secret all matters committed and revealed to me in this capacity, or that shall be secretly treated of in Council. Generally, in all things I shall do as a faithful and true servant ought to do for Her Majesty.

Friday, March 18, 2016

It’s time to revisit income trusts while avoiding their worst excesses



Saturday, January 30, 2016

The latest joke from the CBC





What a joke! The CBC has set up a website where sources can post anonymous tips about wrongdoing in the belief that the CBC will actually pursue these stories.

Any belief on the part of Canadians that the CBC would actively pursue wrongdoing is totally misplaced, as evidenced by the CBC's complete unwillingness to pursue Harper's $35 billion income trust fraud.

The CBC was repeatedly asked by Canadians across the country to investigate this matter, but instead CBC actively suppressed this news story and the falsehood's behind Harper's tax leakage arguments, as blogged about here:

CBC’s active suppression of the news

CBC has flushed income trust taxpayers down their toilet

Blown off by Don Newman

CBC’s pretense of soliciting questions from Canadians for Stephen Harper

This is  grossly irresponsible on the part of the CBC

Hey, doesn't CBC's Amanda Lang's husband work for Peter Munk?

etc. etc.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Now that the Liberals are in power, this should be a no-brainer

March-03-08
  
For Immediate Release
February 29, 2008
 
Liberal Finance Committee Members call on Auditor General to Examine Government’s Claims of Income Trust Tax Leakage
 
OTTAWA – Liberal Members of the Standing Committee on Finance today called on the Auditor General to investigate the tax leakage claims that the government used as the basis for its October 31, 2006, decision to tax income trusts. 
 
“I think that this government’s stonewalling has gone on long enough and it’s time that Canadians got to see that the Government simply made up its story that income trusts cause federal tax leakage,” said Liberal Finance Critic John McCallum. 
 
“Prime Minister Stephen Harper promised to Canadians that he would never tax income trusts.  Then he went back on his word, costing Canadians billions overnight and in the wake of his silence on the issue we feel that only the Auditor General can shine some light into this matter.”
 
All four Liberal Members of the Finance Committee signed a letter to Auditor General Sheila Fraser asking her to investigate the matter, particularly the government’s unproven allegations about income trusts causing tax leakage.
 
“This has clearly become much more than just another instance of the government not doing its homework before acting.  It has become a full-blown scandal and cover-up,” said John McKay, Member of Parliament for Scarborough-Guildwood.  “We have tried virtually every tool at our disposal to get the government to show us how they came to their conclusions about tax leakage and the Auditor General may be Canadians’ last resort.”
 
An Access to Information request asking for the Department of Finance’s assumptions, data and methodology resulted in the release of only 23 pages of documents that are almost entirely blacked out.
 
A direct request from the Finance Committee to see the data was met with two thick binders of superfluous information that did not contain the data or methodology originally requested.
 
A written question was placed on the Order Paper asking the government to recalculate its estimate of tax leakage using the 15 per cent federal corporate tax rate that will actually be in effect in 2012, the year after the income trust tax begins, as opposed to the 21 per cent tax rate that was in effect at the time of the announcement.  The government’s response to the question indicated that that this would be a hypothetical calculation and therefore impossible to do.
 
“That’s not a hypothetical, that’s what the federal tax rate will be,” said Garth Turner, Member of Parliament for Halton.  “If the government can’t manage to run the new 2012 corporate tax rate through their calculators then I have no reason to believe they ran the old one through their calculators in October of 2006.”
 
In 2006, Stephen Harper ran on a campaign commitment to never tax income trusts.  The Conservative election platform characterized any attempt to impose such a tax as, “An attack on retirement savings.”
 
“That election commitment was obviously a falsehood. Unfortunately the voters who believed it and invested even more money in income trusts lost a significant portion of their nest eggs,” said Massimo Pacetti, Member of Parliament for MP for Saint-LĂ©onard—Saint-Michel. 
 
“Even today, 15 months after they broke their election promise, Members of Parliament still hear from the thousands of Canadians whose retirement plans were shattered by this deception. Liberal Members of Parliament continue to stand up for them.”
 
 
-30-
 
The full text of the letter sent to the Auditor General is attached.
 
To see the government response to written question 149 on the Order Paper please visit: www.liberal.ca/pdf/docs/080229_Q-149_en.pdf

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Harper's faded economic vision for Canada



Pretty much sums it up.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Mr. Tory - tear down this wall

John Allemang wrote an interesting piece in today's Globe concerning the decision facing Toronto council about whether to spend another $1 billion to perpetuate the bad idea known as the Gardiner extension or do something more progressive than repeating past mistakes.

That article is entitled: Beneath the Gardiner, a soul-destroying wasteland lurks  to which I posed the following comment:

Well put John Allemang, and from an interesting perspective, that of the pedestrian.

Any decision concerning this portion of the Gardiner needs to be made, not in isolation, but in the broader context of what's to be done with the entirety of the Gardiner. $1 billion is no trifling sum of money that Toronto taxpayers will be spending. This decision also needs to be made in the broader Toronto interests, rather than the more narrow interests who are calling for a preservation of the status quo (at a cost of $1 billion).

I think everyone agrees that the Gardiner is an idea that did not realize on its original 1950's promise, and is not something that any urban planner would recommend today. That said, how can it possible be considered a good idea to simply perpetuate a bad idea, by preserving  the Gardiner at a cost of 41 billion?

Tory's hybrid idea sounds more like a campaign to mask all of the obvious ills of the Gardiner, with some token gestures of making what's bad feel less bad, much like the exercise of putting lipstick on a pig.

Fixing what's wrong with the Gardiner won't be cheap, but rather than throwing $1 billion to perpetuate the bad idea known as the Gardiner, how about spending some real money and coming up with a real solution, such as the tunnel that is being proposed? Toronto and Torontonians deserve real solutions and not band aid solutions as the incremental cost, as between the two, will prove itself money well spent over the short, immediate and long term and won't be a decision that future generations will be second guessing, as we are now doing with the Gardiner.

Maybe we could call it the Tory Tunnel as that might appeal to the Mayor's ego and might get him to think straight on this major decision that he's presently headed down the wrong direction on.
Well put John Allemang, and from an interesting perspective, that of the pedestrian.

Any decision concerning this portion of the Gardiner needs to me made, not in isolation, but in the broader context of what's to be done with the entirety of the Gardiner. $1 billion is no trifling sum of money that Toronto taxpayers will be spending. This decision also needs to be made in the context of the broader Toronto interests, rather than the more narrow interests who are calling for a preservation of the status quo (at a cost of $1 billion).

I think everyone agrees that the Gardiner is an idea that did not realize on its original 1950's promise, and is not something any urban planner would recommend today. That said, how can it possibly be considered a good idea to simply perpetuate a bad idea, by preserving the Gardiner at a cost of $1 billion, as people like John Tory are proposing?

Tory's hybrid idea sounds more like a campaign to mask all the obvious ills of the Gardiner with some token gestures of making what's bad feel less bad, much like the exercise of putting lipstick on a pig.

Fixing what's wrong with the Gardiner won't be cheap, but rather than throwing $1 billion to perpetuate the bad idea known as the Gardiner, how about spending some real money and come up with a real solution, such as the tunnel that is being proposed? Toronto and Torontonians deserve real solutions and not band aid solution, as the incremental cost, as between the two, will prove itself money well spent over the short, immediate and long term and won't be a decision that future generations will be second guessing, as we are now doing with the Gardiner.

Maybe we could call it the Tory Tunnel as that might appeal to the Mayor's ego and might get him to think straight on this major decision that he's presently headed down the wrong direction on.


Well put John Allemang, and from an interesting perspective, that of the pedestrian.

Any decision concerning this portion of the Gardiner needs to me made, not in isolation, but in the broader context of what's to be done with the entirety of the Gardiner. $1 billion is no trifling sum of money that Toronto taxpayers will be spending. This decision also needs to be made in the context of the broader Toronto interests, rather than the more narrow interests who are calling for a preservation of the status quo (at a cost of $1 billion).

I think everyone agrees that the Gardiner is an idea that did not realize on its original 1950's promise, and is not something any urban planner would recommend today. That said, how can it possibly be considered a good idea to simply perpetuate a bad idea, by preserving the Gardiner at a cost of $1 billion, as people like John Tory are proposing?

Tory's hybrid idea sounds more like a campaign to mask all the obvious ills of the Gardiner with some token gestures of making what's bad feel less bad, much like the exercise of putting lipstick on a pig.

Fixing what's wrong with the Gardiner won't be cheap, but rather than throwing $1 billion to perpetuate the bad idea known as the Gardiner, how about spending some real money and come up with a real solution, such as the tunnel that is being proposed? Toronto and Torontonians deserve real solutions and not band aid solution, as the incremental cost, as between the two, will prove itself money well spent over the short, immediate and long term and won't be a decision that future generations will be second guessing, as we are now doing with the Gardiner.

Maybe we could call it the Tory Tunnel as that might appeal to the Mayor's ego and might get him to think straight on this major decision that he's presently headed down the wrong direction on.


Well put John Allemang, and from an interesting perspective, that of the pedestrian.

Any decision concerning this portion of the Gardiner needs to me made, not in isolation, but in the broader context of what's to be done with the entirety of the Gardiner. $1 billion is no trifling sum of money that Toronto taxpayers will be spending. This decision also needs to be made in the context of the broader Toronto interests, rather than the more narrow interests who are calling for a preservation of the status quo (at a cost of $1 billion).

I think everyone agrees that the Gardiner is an idea that did not realize on its original 1950's promise, and is not something any urban planner would recommend today. That said, how can it possibly be considered a good idea to simply perpetuate a bad idea, by preserving the Gardiner at a cost of $1 billion, as people like John Tory are proposing?

Tory's hybrid idea sounds more like a campaign to mask all the obvious ills of the Gardiner with some token gestures of making what's bad feel less bad, much like the exercise of putting lipstick on a pig.

Fixing what's wrong with the Gardiner won't be cheap, but rather than throwing $1 billion to perpetuate the bad idea known as the Gardiner, how about spending some real money and come up with a real solution, such as the tunnel that is being proposed? Toronto and Torontonians deserve real solutions and not band aid solution, as the incremental cost, as between the two, will prove itself money well spent over the short, immediate and long term and won't be a decision that future generations will be second guessing, as we are now doing with the Gardiner.

Maybe we could call it the Tory Tunnel as that might appeal to the Mayor's ego and might get him to think straight on this major decision that he's presently headed down the wrong direction on.